GEORGE CRUMB: Black Angels
It's probably the only quartet to have been inspired by the war in Vietnam. The work draws from an arsenal of sounds including shouting, singing, whistling, whispering, gongs, maracas, and crystal glasses. The score contains two inscriptions: in tempore beautiful and finished Friday, March 13, 1970. " Black Angels was conceived as a kind of parable on our contemporary world. The numerous references in the work are therefore almost programmatic symbolic, even if the fundamental polarity - God against the Devil - implies more of a reality purely metaphysical. The image of the 'black angel was a conventional device used by the first painters to symbolize the fallen angel. The underlying structure of Black Angels is a huge arch, which is suspended by three songs called Threnody. The work depicts a journey of the soul. The three stages of this journey are Departure (fall from grace), Absence (spiritual-to the annientamen) and Return (redemption). The numerological symbolism of Black Angels, though not immediately perceptible to the ear, it is still quite faithfully reflected in the structure-the music. These magical relationships are variously expressed, for example, in terms of length, groupings of individual notes, duration, repetition models, etc.. An important element in the work - the figure descending MI, LA and RE # - also symbolizes the numbers 7-13 fatal. At some points in the score occurs a sort of ritual count in several languages, including German, French, Russian, Hungarian, Japanese and Swahili. There are several allusions to tonal music in Black Angels: a quotation from Schubert, the quartet Death and the Maiden (in Lachrymae Pavana and also vaguely recalled the last page of the job), an original Sarabande, which is stylistically synthetic, hue sustained by God-music (SI greater), and numerous references to the Latin sequence Dies Irae. The work is rich in symbolism as the conventional music Diabolus in Musica (tritone interval) and the Devil's Trill (from Tartini). The amplification of stringed instruments in Black Angels is intended to produce a highly surreal. This surrealism is accentuated by the use of some unusual effects on the strings, for example, the tones of the pedal (the sounds of the intensely obscene Devil-music), the rubbing of the wrong side of the strings (to produce an effect in viol consort), trills on the strings with the fingers covered with a thimble. The performers also play maracas, tam-tam and crystal goblets filled with water, the latter played with a bow to reproduce the effect glassarmonica in God-music.